Lost Highways

Lost Highways

Partridge Creek Bridge west of Ash Fork Arizona predates Route 66 by several years.

I have long had an affection for the back roads and the lost highways. Depending on which alignment chosen, Route 66 can fit in both categories in spite of its international popularity. That old highway was in a near constant state of evolution and as a result, bridges, gas stations, and entire towns were often bypassed and left marooned on a truncated and abandoned highway. A similar story can be told about most older US highways built before the dawning of the interstate highway.

My fascination for these old highways is not limited to the modern era, hence the reason I own a Jeep. This is not to say I find enjoyment in rock crawling or old roads that have been transformed into boulder strewn paths. I enjoy driving, not rebuilding, the Jeep. As an example of my type of back country adventure is the Perkinsville Road that connects Seligman with Prescott in Arizona. With patience, and a bit of luck the rod can be driven in a two wheel drive car with modest ground clearance. This is of course dependent on the last time it rained or snowed.

The historic courthouse square in Prescott, Arizona

It is a scenic and fascinating drive with a lengthy history. Near Seligman one section was actually followed by the National Old Trails Road. Most of it was the old course for the Mohave Prescott Toll Road, a 19th century territorial road that connected Hardyville, and Fort Mohave on the Colorado River with Fort Whipple at Prescott. The road course past old ranches, one of which was actually a town before the dawning of the 19th century, and over an old truss bridge that dates to the teens. The bridge began life on the Gila River and was salvaged after a major flood.

Suburbia is spreading from Prescott north along the old road. To break from the wilderness into the modern era is a bit a rude awakening. Still, if you tie the Williamson Valley Road in with a visit to the historic Whiskey Row in Prescott it is still possible to enjoy the illusion of time travel.